2012 Major League Baseball Award Winners : Upsets Could Be on the Horizon

Matt BuckCorrespondent IJanuary 28, 2012

2012 Major League Baseball Award Winners : Upsets Could Be on the Horizon

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    As is the case in any sport, it's never too early to make predictions. While deciding who the Rookie of the Year in the American League will be months before the season has even started, is a bit difficult. It's always fun to speculate.

    Expect to see quite a few changes in the landscape this year. As of right now, it's likely that last year's NL MVP, Ryan Braun, will be serving a 50 game suspension, meaning it's unlikely that he will repeat as MVP.

    Then there's Detroit's Justin Verlander. While Verlander could compete for the Cy Young Award again this season, it's unlikely that he'll win MVP two years in a row.

American League Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels

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    Mike Trout almost lost his rookie status last season due to the amount of playing time he received, but he 's back as a rookie this season.

    This season, however, Trout should see plenty of playing time. His meteoric rise through the ranks of minor league ball has made him one of the top prospects in all of the majors.

    Trout's most impressive attribute is his speed. He is widely considered to be one of the fastest players in the Angels organization and in baseball.

    Although he didn't do too much to impress at the Major League level in 2011, he did show flashes of brilliance from time-to-time. Even if Trout starts the season playing Triple-A ball, look to see the speedster in the lineup sooner rather than later.

    Other Candidates:

    Matt Moore, LHP, Tampa Rays

    Jesus Montero, C, Seattle Mariners

    Yu Darvish, RHP, Texas Rangers

National League Rookie of the Year: Drew Pomeranz, LHP, Colorado Rockies

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    Pomeranz could potentially be winning this award in the American League, if not for Ubaldo Jimenez. The massive trade sent Pomeranz—considered to be one of Cleveland's best prospects of the time—over to Colorado in exchange for the superstar, Jimenez.

    While Pomeranz didn't accrue any quality starts at the Major League level in 2011, this can mostly be blamed on the strict pitch count that he had to adhere to. He was very impressive in September, though, and could be competing for a spot in the rotation going into spring training.

    This decision was tough, considering Washington outfielder Bryce Harper has also been quite impressive so far, but the decision comes down to the amount of playing time each player will probably recieve.

    While it's expected that at this point Harper will not be on Washington's Opening Day roster, Pomeranz could very easily secure a spot in the rotation going into the season.

    Look for the two to compete head-to-head for the award for most of the year. Either one could win it but the edge goes slightly to Pomeranz.

    Other Candidates:

    Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

    Devin Mesoraco, C, Cincinnati Reds

    Yonder Alonso, OF, San Diego Padres

American League Manager of the Year: Jim Leyland, Detroit Tigers

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    Jim Leyland has had a bit of a love/hate relationship with Detroit fans over the years. Some of his calls have been—for lack of a better word—questionable.

    However, Jim Leyland has a chance to get things right this year. This is perhaps the most talented team he's had in Detroit.

    While I think the race will be close between Leyland, Angels' manager Mike Scioscia and Rangers' manager Ron Washington, Leyland should have the edge. In large part because the Tigers should have the best record in the American League at the season's end.

    While this is entirely a tossup, Leyland should do just enough to win the award.

    Other Candidates:

    Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles Angels

    Ron Washington, Texas Rangers

    Joe Girardi, New York Yankees

National League Manager of the Year: Ozzie Guillen, Miami Marlins

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    Ozzie Guillen's arrival in Miami could be a mess, or extremely successful. And—as is usually the case with Guillen—it feels as if there is no middle ground.

    This team seems more talented than any other team Guillen has had. Although the division is a bit of a juggernaut with the Phillies, Braves and Nationals to compete with (the Mets hardly count at this point), Guillen's Marlins are poised to have a big season.

    If this team makes the playoffs, Guillen will be largely credited for taking a team at the bottom of the division in 2011 to a playoff spot in 2012.

    It wouldn't be shocking to see Arizona's Kirk Gibson repeat as the Manager of the Year. However, Guillen should be able to edge him out for the title.

    Other Candidates:

    Kirk Gibson, Arizona

    Charlie Manuel, Philadelphia

    Mike Matheny, St. Louis

American League Cy Young: Jared Weaver, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

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    Most people are probably expecting Detroit's Justin Verlander in this spot. That won't be the case in 2012.

    It's not to say that Verlander won't have a great year, because he probably will. But his chances of repeating are slim.

    Weaver was able to hang tough with Verlander for much of the season, before Verlander went through his historic streak of wins. This year, Weaver has a better offense to work with, and a better pitching staff to boot, making him feel a bit less pressured.

    While Verlander could easily win the award again, look for Weaver to edge out Detroit's ace in 2012.

    Other Candidates:

    Justin Verlander, RHP, Detroit

    CC Sabathia, LHP, New York

    James Shields, RHP, Tampa

National League Cy Young: Josh Johnson, RHP, Miami Marlins

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    Again, a lot of people want to pick Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw or Philly's Roy Halladay for this award. Although it will be a close race, Johnson will rise to the occasion and take the National League's Cy Young Award in 2012.

    Prior to Johnson's injury in 2011, he was considered to be one of the best pitchers in the National League. This season, he will reclaim that honor. With an offense that should be improved and a defense that is already above average, Johnson should be able to, at the very least, rack up the wins in Miami.

    Johnson's chances of winning the award will be contingent on whether or not Miami does well. Johnson's situation probably won't be like Seattle's Felix Hernandez, the year he won the Cy Young, in which the pitcher won despite playing for a team with a very poor record.

    Really, there are at least half a dozen pitchers in the National League that could win this award. When all is said and done, though, Johnson will do just enough to win.

    Other Candidates:

    Clayton Kershaw, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers

    Roy Halladay, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

    Adam Wainwright, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals

American League MVP: Robinson Cano, 2B, New York Yankees

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    There are a lot of players in the American League that could win MVP in 2012. But, in terms of value, no one will be more valuable to his team than New York's Robinson Cano.

    While Cano's numbers actually dropped slightly in 2011, he was still one of the best hitters in the game. And while players like Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder may end up having similar seasons, Cano will get the attention because he will have the best season of anyone in New York.

    Like the National League Cy Young Award, the AL MVP could go to a handful of players, but Cano should carry the edge because of his strong numbers and—quite frankly—because of the team that he plays for.

    Other Candidates:

    Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers

    Prince Fielder, 1B, Detroit Tigers

    Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels 

National League MVP: Matt Kemp, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Matt Kemp had an excellent season in 2011. One could argue that he deserved to win the MVP Award last season. The award ended up going to now controversial slugger Ryan Braun.

    This season, Kemp has to be considered the favorite to win the award. With Braun facing suspension, and Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols taking their talents to the AL, Kemp has been catapulted to the top of the class in the National League.

    While there are a few other potential winners—Miami's Jose Reyes comes to mind as a dark horselook for Kemp to win the award rather easily, especially if he builds upon the season that he had in 2011.

    Other Candidates:

    Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds

    Jose Reyes, SS, Miami Marlins

    Justin Upton, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks